slow - simple - soulful - sustainable
Finding a life that belongs to you | Lynne Davies-Craine
‘I wanted to find happiness in every day rather than seeking it in the big things that society told me would make my life complete. ’
Lynne is a coach and nature-lover, living in Oxfordshire. After working as a nurse in the NHS, and some time in the charity sector, she is now setting up her coaching practice: helping women who feel lost in their own lives to reconnect to themselves and the life they truly want.
We asked her about what drew her to coaching, why it is so easy to end up in a life that doesn’t truly feel like your own, and how we can reconnect to our intuition and discover what it is we really want.
words by Fiona Barrows and Lynne Davies-Craine / images by Lynne Davies-Craine
Perhaps we could start with you telling us a little bit about yourself ?
‘It’s always hard to know what bits to start with! I’m Lynne, and I trained and worked as a nurse for about 10 years, before moving into the charity sector, where I work part-time supporting those who feel lonely and isolated, while setting up my coaching practice.
I love walking, with friends/family and our dog Otto, sometimes photographing what I see, always slowing down to soak it all up. I’m forever the one lagging at the back! I moved to Oxfordshire for university and never quite escaped. I now live with my husband (and the dog!) in a small market town.
In my mid 20s after feeling discontent with my own life, ever searching for what will make me happy next, I had coaching myself and really started my journey of getting to know myself more. I discovered a way I can use my skills and passion together to support other young women to reconnect to themselves, understand what makes them tick and make choices based on that, so they always feel like them.’
A few years ago you decided to make a few changes to your life, and moved from working full-time to part-time and setting up your own coaching business. What was it that prompted this change? What were you seeking?
‘I think what prompted the change was firstly me having coaching myself, starting to understand that I did want more from my life, and I could make changes that I didn’t think were possible before. I wanted to find happiness in every day rather than seeking it in the big things that society told me would make my life complete. Another significant point for me was realising how important getting out in nature was for me, the peace it brought me, along with the joys of noticing the happenings in nature, from the tiny woodlouse to the sunlight and clouds dancing on the hillside. I wanted to do more of this, and not just on my holidays. I knew I wanted to do something more, something that set my soul on fire, and I knew being outside in nature was a big part that my nursing career just wasn’t able to give.’
What was it that drew you to coaching?
‘I went into nursing because I wanted to help other people, but as time went on I saw how important it was to empower rather than ‘help’. It became more about supporting people (teenagers at the time) in understanding themselves, their own health and wellbeing and how to make better choices to feel well. But there were many other parts to the job, and I knew I was reaching burnout if something didn’t change. Then from my own coaching journey, I realised the importance of being outside in nature but still continuing to support others using all my skills, both innate and from nursing. I believe that we all fundamentally know what we need but it’s often hidden and we get sucked into doing what’s expected rather than what we want. We rarely have the opportunity to explore what we really want and how to get it. But in coaching, having the dedicated time and safe space, with someone walking alongside, you can connect to yourself again, see where the blocks might be and really begin to make some shifts back towards what feels like you.’
Why do you think we so often end up in lives that don’t feel like they belong to us?
‘I think we can’t help but be conditioned by society, what the world around expects us to be, the consumerism and external validation we seek (because we’re told it will fix all our problems) can take us away from our more natural state. The things we enjoy, may not seem ‘cool’. For me nature and helping people aren’t big money spinners. There is this expected path (although in different countries and cultures these may look different) and as I grew up I followed the path I thought I was supposed to; the successful job, relationship, flat… but when I arrived where I thought I would be rewarded with happiness, it was always just out of reach. There was always a feeling that I needed more, or that I was missing out on something everyone else had this secret to. And I don’t think I’m alone in that journey.’
Do you think we’ve become disconnected from our intuition? If so, why do you think this is?
‘Yes, I think over time this conditioning from society can often make us distrust ourselves, leaving us feeling we need to be fixed in some ways. Especially as young women we are fed a narrative of what a ‘good girl/woman/wife’ looks like and that results in silencing some of our own wishes and desires for those of others/our families. Our intuition is innate and when we are fed the message that we need to be better and know more, we can lose sight of the importance of intuition. I also think we aren’t taught about our mental wellbeing, there is a lot more awareness of mental ill health and the stigma surrounding this is reducing. But, I still feel there is a long way to go in understanding our general mental wellbeing and that includes our intuition, the narratives in our heads and the signals our bodies try to give us when things feel off or wrong. I think there’s a lot more to be done in educating all of us about our mental wellbeing as much as our physical health.’
How do we figure out what it is we actually want, outside of society’s expectations of us?
‘I think it’s about trying to get back to the basics, back to ourselves. We are all rushing through life at such a pace (although I think the pandemic has at least helped us slow down a little) we are running on the treadmill of expectations. Slowing down allows us to step off that treadmill and reconnect to ourselves. When we do this we can hear what is it that we really want, maybe we get nudges from our intuition when things feel right, our values align and when this happens we feel good, like really good and sparkly, a ‘soul on fire’ type feeling.’
Why is slowing down so important to figuring this out? And what role can nature play in this?
‘When we rush through our every day we are in our heads so much of the time, our thoughts turning over the past or worrying about the future. But it’s in the present where we can really figure this stuff out, truly just allowing ourselves to be, this could be through meditation but also just some more mindful activities, or doing the things you really love, exercise, cooking, being creative.
Throughout the pandemic there has been a definite shift in people’s appreciation for outdoor spaces and our connection to nature. I think this is because we’ve been brought back into ourselves as the human creatures we are. Nature forces us to slow down, it gives us a huge dose of perspective, whether that is in your garden, park or out in the wilds of a National Park. For me, when I’m in nature, I feel most like me, most like the person I feel I’m supposed to be when all the expectations and pressures of modern life are taken away.’
Where does joy come for you in life? What do you enjoy most about your slower way of life?
‘I started to notice more and more everyday joy as I slowed down, from watching my dog play, to stripping out expectations of social situations and just enjoying them in the moment. I know my ‘go-to’ things which will bring me that happiness, wandering in the woods with my camera, seeing what I can find which other people may easily overlook on their walk. So much joy is in savouring the little things, trying to capture the light through the trees, or the dew drops on the grass, and being present so I can really soak them up, taking those extra few minutes to notice and watch. These are the priceless things which bring me joy, and knowing I’m rebelling against societies norms, knowing I can live my life my way and feel all this ordinary joy, is an extra added joy!’
And finally what does slow living mean to you?
‘I think it’s essentially that, getting to live my life the way I want to. Slowing down enough to really know myself and then to create my own way of being in the world. At the moment that’s creating my coaching practice, spending more time outdoors and supporting others to truly know themselves too.’
SLOW FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite place to read a book? Snuggled up in bed, whilst getting an early night with a cup of nighttime Pukka tea, and maybe a hot water bottle. Oh and a candle burning close by!
Favourite coffee or tea shop? A little local spot called Java in Abingdon market square. It’s doggy friendly and I’ve lots of happy memories of warming up with a cuppa and toast after our Saturday morning ParkRun there. One day they’ll return and hopefully I’ll be able to run 5K again!
Favourite place in nature? I think it has to be up in the Lake District, specifically a walk alongside a stream up a valley, with mossy stone walls, up to an old slate mine. We used to come up to this spot in my grandparents old camper van for picnics when we were little and it’s a very special spot for me.
Favourite independent shop or maker? Polly at Origin Bespoke who is an amazing artist and created a stunning watercolour of my sister’s bouquet for her wedding gift. And she inspires me as another woman carving out the life she wants, all whilst raising her little girl as well.
Favourite slow living ritual? I’ve already mentioned photography, but I also love having the time to find a new recipe and cook a wholesome dish, with a glass of wine and a bit of jazz!
LYNNE’S SLOW LIVING TIP
Practise little moments of being truly present
‘Sometimes it’s not possible to get into the nature you really want. I don’t always get to the woods or the river and when I don’t have that much time, I have to take the dog for a walk around the block. But it’s still possible to connect to nature and slow down here. Try slowing your walk down, even if you’re just nipping to the post box. Notice the colour of the leaves, or are there any flowers or berries on the shrubs or trees on your way? Connecting to nature can help bring us back into our bodies rather than going over the 101 thoughts we have in our head at the times. Practicing these little moments of being truly present, as often as you can, all help to make us feel more like ourselves again.’
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